Linux Journal has posted a great article by Doc Searls on the tendancy in society to try to place people in groups in order to get them to fit better in the roles reserved for them. The use of the bell curve is cited as a good example of how people are slotted and guided, very often to the detriment of the development of their own skills development and intellect.
This past week Nancy and I have been doing a lot of thinking and talking about Janneke. She's very bright but has been having tough time under her teachers' scrutiny because she does not perform propertly at all times with her school chores. Before I go on I'd like to say that there are definately skills Janneke needs to improve on. The problem is that there is a risk that this will not be the focus, rather the focus is in danger of becoming "helping" Janneke fit into the classroom environment better.
I do believe that one can learn a great many things in school if there is a good relationship between teacher and student. School can be damaging, however, if, when one fails to perform or behave as per the norm, one is labelled as having a problem. This, to some extent, is happening with Janneke. I'd like to stress that this labelling is not uniform and that we think that if we are proactive we can make things work out for the best of Janneke.
Institutions, on their own are lazy shells intent on sucking you in and forming you to their mould. Because it is essentially stupid, the tendancy of an institution is to try to make people fit its needs rather than the other way around. It doesn't know anything else. Schools are also institutions that need to process people, set up to rank and score them along the way to producing their finished product. This can lead to problems, especially if the school is not filled with staff who work to make the school a place focussed on the individual needs and gifts of its students. Notice that you need good people. Take away the dedicated, skilled staff and all you're left with is the ranking, the bell curve. As schools fit into school boards fit into universities fit into standardized test scores fit into job applications, the wisdom of the human is more and more replaced by the empty stupidity of the institution.
We'd like to protect our children from this as much as possible and outfit them to think for themselves so that when they are older they can protect themselves and learn for themselves.